our Story

Our Relationship

We grew up in the same town, Toledo, the littlest city or the biggest small town anyone has ever known. We overlapped a lot as kids, more than we ever realized. In fact, just a year or so ago, we uncovered a photo of Jennifer and spotted me in the same room. It wasn’t until high school that we formally met, we were both a little dorky and unsure of just about everything, though we showed it in different ways. Jennifer liked me (yes, like… LIKE liked me) almost instantly, it would take me another six years to realize what Jenn knew instantly; we were made for each other. I found a note that I wrote to Jennifer’s sister explaining my heart on the matter just before we officially started dating in which I explained that each of us wore a “made for: ___” tag, from birth, that had each other’s names on it. I still know that to be true. Our tags have gone through the wash a few times, but they’re still there, and always will be. I don’t know that the concept of “soul mates” fully makes sense to me, but I can’t argue that I found mine, and I’ll never let her go.

– Benjamin

The “Derk” of Derk’s Works

There is certainly some irony to the fact that our name suggests possession while no-one is actually named “Derk”. The name sake actually comes from a family nick-name most used by my grandfather Hall Derkin. After World War II he started an industrial supply business that my father owns and operates to this day; his core philosophy in business, sales, industrial innovation, and life was to make good relationships and through good relationships you will do good work. While there are many other bunny trails of the Derk’s Works origin, I believe this one to be the most important. Our business is, just as the name suggests, the work of Derk. Whether it’s the couples we serve or the way we invest into our clients, this business exists to be part of exceptional quality and depth, born out of the beauty of great relationships.

– Benjamin (Derk IV)

Our Collaboration

Similar to our personal relationship, our working relationship has taken time, intentionality, and patience. Each phase of our journey has beautifully crafted each of us for the roles we now play as Derk’s Works.

Our time was filled with late nights editing, full days shooting, selling, training, learning and miles of time on the road together and apart. After a ten year corporate career in sales, I found myself at a point of exhaustion, seeking a greater purpose than profit, and a more meaningful use of my experiences and skills in communication, business management and sales. Benjamin’s photography work and vision was also at the point of explosive growth that required more time, energy and resources than each day and one person could offer. It was crazy, exciting, a whirlwind and also our dream. This was the dream that had been planted in each of us years ago. We had the desire to work side by side, to create and share, to connect and value, to be together in work and life, valuing each other’s passion and perspective. Working with Benjamin brings out the best in me. To work alongside someone who knows you better than you even know yourself, who believes in you, your passions, your gifts, your work ethic, your ideas and opinions is what I have found. This dynamic is empowering! It produces a depth in our work, art, style and communication that is meaningful, energizing and something incredibly unique and valuable. To be able to work harder and longer than ever before, but selling someone, something, that I truly believe in at my core, to wholeheartedly pour our ideas, passions and energy into our clients, relationships, our work, this is our desire, this is our dream. This is more than our job, it is our privilege.

– Jennifer

Our Eternal Love & Relentless Fidelity

This phrase is born out of our love and respect of marriage and everything that goes with it. Weddings are a beautiful celebration of love and joy; big or small they hold in one day the complexity of a relationship’s past and future, who you were, who you are, and who you will be together. Most importantly, however, they are the birth place of your marriage. The opening sentence of your story together. As it begins, it showcases an image of grace and new life.

It is from this perspective that we see marriage vows as infinite lines of intricacy and nuance that show further complexity with time. Dramatic peeks and valleys of your impending life story. To love and to cherish, not in a passive way, but with ferocity and confidence, knowing that you are for each other. You belong to each other. You are each other.

– Benjamin

The Dynamic Jenn-Jamin (or Benj-ifer)

“Oh, sorry, I opened a second almond milk this morning,” Benjamin said from across the kitchen as he rhythmically assembled bedtime bottles for their children. “That’s ok!” Her eyes starry as she watched her boys chatting over their watercolor paintings at the kitchen table; Jennifer replied to Benjamin in the midst of love for the life she couldn’t believe she found herself in the middle of. I watched the evening dance, like I have many times, as they made their way up the stairs, both of them, to put the boys to bed.

The thing about these two, Benjamin and Jennifer, is that what you see in every polished form, every Instagram post, professional publication or event, is the same grace, sincerity, and intentionality you see in them at their most vulnerable. Their honesty in all of it is accompanied by deep, true love. From notes of encouragement to each other around the office, to Benjamin’s passionate willingness to grab groceries at the store for dinner, to the way Jennifer talks about Benjamin’s skill and passion for his profession, there is nothing they do without their whole hearts. They give all of themselves to each other, their family, and their work.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I get to see them in both their regular, beautifully messy, every-day routine and I get to see them in the context of Derk’s Works, which they pursue with just as much gusto. To be honest, it is a real-life dream. There are no two people I would recommend, rather, insist, to be a part of a day that is so important to you. Benjamin and Jennifer are set apart by not only their love for their work but their love for love. It is honest and passionate, telling your story from your perspective.

After years of watching them thrive so many areas, their relationship, parenthood, their business, I am still not sure how they do it. But this I am sure of: inviting them to capture your most cherished moments will leave you with more than stellar images. You will feel deeply known, clearly heard, and perfectly captured. That, I can promise.

– Eva Hyder

I Remember

(a poem written for our wedding, 2009)

I’ve known Benj and Jenn for a few years and I remember when they first started dating. Through these years, I’ve grown to know them both very well, and I’ve learned much through their close relationship with one another. I’ve learned that to have someone you love, whom you trust and cherish, is something very valuable, something beyond words. I’m thankful that they have given me this privilege to dedicate this poem to them and to at least try my best to put love into words.

I Remember – Adam Crites

It was then that you found me at your door
Standing alone by that roadside with the
Dust and the sand blowing across my ankles
From miles of wandering, nights of searching
And stepping through darkness to darkness,
And the fallen leaves of each broken memory
Lay in paper-thin layers piled beneath my bare feet.

I remember that first day it seemed
As if love had called me by my name
With a voice of silk ribbon wrapping itself
Around my hands and wrists; it twisted
Along my arms and caressed my pale cheek
And gently it whispered in its feather touch
Against my ear, and you spoke my name.

I remember the thousands of miles between us
Between beginning and ending, along this trying journey
That is now only the length of your arm, your hand, your fingertip.
My eyes were sore looking into the distance, pursuing the horizon,
My knees and heels bruised and worn from stumbling,
The steps between us seeming countless and without end,
And I dreamed of you sleeping under a different sky.

I remember listening to the wind blowing
Through the dry trees and through thorn bushes,
But I’ve longed to see the wind move through your hair,
To hear the violet song in your smile instead,
The summer sunlight curling against your cheek again,
Your blue shadow dancing in the fine moonlight,
To find my illusive hope captured in your velvet eyes.

I remember the splendid daylight when you drew me close.
How silently my shoulders let go of their leaden weight,
The smooth rain of your fingers along my neck,
Your sweet golden laughter echoing in my chest.
To share our unnumbered and untold moments,
To hold the deep beauty of the world,
Of the stars in my gaze, between our hands.

And I wish to remember this always, you by my side
Tugging on my shirtsleeve when you say,
“Come, Love, and let’s make a promise together.”
Your hips start to sway with the branches and green leaves,
And I look into the joyous eyes of the morning.
I declare that you are the one I was looking for, the one that I love,
For you are unlike any other, and you are mine forever.

As Long As The Grass Shall Grow

This song is a lyrical re-write by Johnny Cash to the love of his life June Carter. Ever since the first time we listened to it, we knew that we had found a song that would forever speak to each other’s heart.

My heart was calling for ya
When one night you came along.
We danced around each other
But then we sang our song.

Our harmony was shakey,
And the pitch not very true,
But then you gave into me
And I gave into you.

We had to fight the world
And we fought with all we had
We vowed to be together
Through the sweet times and the bad

As long as the moon shall rise
As long as the river flows
As long as the sun shall rise
As long, as the grass shall grow

I hear you whisper ever night,
“May I have this dance?”
Although I’m not light on my feet,
I always take the chance.

We’ve gone through many storms,
And often walked through fire.
But always our love and faith
Took us higher and higher.

We know the mystery of life,
It’s “love hard and long”
I love you
And I love you
And I always will,
As long…

As long as the moon shall rise
As long as the river flows
As long as the sun shall rise
As long, as the grass shall grow